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Twitter Suspends Nearly 1 Million Accounts Associated with Terrorism

Twitter has suspended a total of 935,897 accounts for the promotion of terrorism between August 1, 2015, and June 30, 2017, the company says in its latest transparency report.

Twitter has suspended a total of 935,897 accounts for the promotion of terrorism between August 1, 2015, and June 30, 2017, the company says in its latest transparency report.

A total of 299,649 accounts were suspended during the first half of 2017, marking a 20% decrease compared to the previous six-month period, the company reveals. 95% of the account suspensions were the result of internal efforts, the social platform claims.

These are “accounts that actively incite or promote violence associated with internationally recognized terrorist organizations, promote internationally recognized terrorist organizations, and accounts attempting to evade prior enforcement,” Twitter explains.

According to the social media network, 75% of the accounts suspended during the January-June 2017 timeframe were blocked before posting their first tweet. The sustained effort to eliminate such activity from the platform has resulted in an 80% drop in government reports on such accounts, compared to the previous six months.

However, government requests accounted for less than 1% of account suspensions, as they only amounted to 338 reports referring to 1,200 accounts. They also represented only 2% of the reports received from governments around the world, which summed up to 16,818 reports in the six-month period.

The largest number of such reports were received for abusive behavior, at 16,414, which represented 98% of global government TOS (Terms of Service) reports. These referred to 6,299 accounts, only 12% of which were actioned on, but the majority of requests didn’t result in content removal.

Twitter also received 37 requests related to copyright, and 29 reports related to trademark. These are non-legal requests submitted by government representatives about content that might violate the company’s rules against copyright and trademark infringement.

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In its transparency report, the social platform says it received a total of 6,448 global government requests for account information from January through June, 2017, up 6% from the previous period, but affecting 3% fewer accounts. Some of the requests originated from four new countries, namely Nepal, Paraguay, Panama, and Uruguay.

Twitter also reveals that it received around 10% more global legal requests to remove content, and that these impacted roughly 12% more accounts compared to the previous reporting period. Such requests came from various countries, including nine new ones: Bahrain, China, Croatia, Finland, Nepal, Paraguay, Poland, Qatar, Ukraine, and Uruguay.

In the United States, the company received a total of 2,111 account information requests that specified 4,594 accounts, and also received 118 removal requests. The U.S. continues to account for the majority of global government requests for account information.

“United States submitted 33% of all worldwide requests for user account information. Interestingly, the total number of requests from U.S. law enforcement and government entities decreased by 8% and those requests affected 18% fewer accounts from last report to this report. This marks the third straight report where we’ve seen a decrease in U.S. requests,” Twitter says.

During the first half of 2017, Washington, D.C. was the top U.S. requester, submitting 14.3% of total requests, followed by California with 13.8% of the requests. In the timeframe, the San Francisco-based company received 245 non-California state-issued subpoenas and court orders, down from 295 during the previous reporting period.

Related: Twitter Suspends More Accounts Linked to ‘Terrorism’

Related: UK Government Complains After Twitter Cuts Data Access

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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